Interns- just the word conjures up an image of young adults running helter-skelter grabbing coffees and taking lunch orders. It’s what we’ve seen in the movies but real life can present a different picture – one of interns sitting diligently at their workstations giving your business a helping hand. In a previous post, we’ve discussed how interns can boost your business and in this one, we will look at how you can set up a system to get the best interns and get the best out of your interns.
The reasons most business offer internships are simple. Most businesses have some amount of entry level work that can be easily delegated. Interns can provide key support in projects that temporarily need a few extra hands and compared to hiring a full or part-time employee, interns can be employed at lower costs. For those of you who believe that interns should be unpaid, it’s time to change that mindset and be warier. In the US, the coveted Conde Nast Internship program was shut down after lawsuits alleged that interns were paid less than $1 for a full day’s work. While Indians might be less litigious, paying your intern, even a nominal amount, is a great way of showing that you value their time and efforts.
Before you begin the outreach to set up your interns system, you need to review the different departments of your business and figure out which areas need interns. You could have a quick chat with your employees to zero in on the tasks at hand. This will help you determine the next step- what kinds of institutions you should approach.
How to Find Interns: Institutions Vs. Websites
There are different factors you need to consider when reaching out to a college or university:
- Are they approachable?
- The academic level of the students
- Is their location close to your office?
Certain colleges also include internships as a compulsory part of their curriculum and you will be able to harness the talents of bright students. 90% of students surveyed in a report on unpaid internships stated that their college-enrolled them for academic credit for their internship. Having the college near your office is an added benefit as the intern (if he/she is working with you through the year) will be able to quickly make themselves present at your office following college hours.
A way to ingrate yourself into the college system is by participating in job fairs, giving talks or seminars on your profession or sponsoring an event at a college fest.
Alternatively, you could use an online portal such as Twenty19 to find your interns. Going online will allow you to widen your search net. It also saves you time when looking for interns as you can sift through many resumes of students who have expressed interest in working for you. Remember to include a brief on yourself, your team and the work culture. Put yourself in the shoes of an intern and think about what they look for in their first working experience. Highlight what sets your business apart and what makes it a fun place to work.
To find the candidates who are the right fit, have someone from that department conduct the interview. If the role allows it- create a task to test the candidate’s ability, e.g. if the intern will spend time writing copy, give them a short writing task.
Once you have your first set of interns create work schedules for them and try to give them a sense of ownership. Too often, if the intern’s task is not set properly, you’ll find that they have nothing to do but while away their time checking Facebook. It is important that you keep your interns engaged and interested so if you are assigning them work that is routine, also ensure that they have tasks that require them to think and find innovative solutions. Interns can also give you a fresh perspective on how to tackle issues with your product or services or find new ways to integrate technology to automate mundane tasks.
Finally, you need to add the intern to your network of contacts to grow your small business. Interns can prove to be valuable resources that refer their friends and juniors to your internship program. Keep in touch and follow their careers, they may in the future start their own business or put you in touch with their future employers.
An intern who performs well and experiences a happy, positive work culture at your business could also be a great candidate to hire full time in the future. According to a study by National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 60% of internships result in a job offer.
Be a great employer and an accessible mentor and you will be well on your way to creating a well-oiled system of interns.